The latest from Elections Alberta: 'Alberta’s chief electoral officer has found 23 cases where improper donations to political parties and constituency associations were made by municipalities and other public bodies.'
'Elections Alberta also reported a significant jump in cases that have been reviewed or are under review. There are now 73 files, compared to 53 cases two weeks ago.'
'All public cases known to have been referred to Elections Alberta for investigation have involved the ruling Progressive Conservatives.'
This type of thing has been going on for years in Alberta politics. It is a symptom of a one party state and is what happens when ANY party has unlimited majority power for over 40 years with the PC's being the beneficiary of the culture of corruption they have created by instilling the idea that in order to get provincial grants/money one has to play the game and contribute to the long ruling PCAA. Think I am kidding or going over the top on this? Well perhaps you might want to read about what happened openly at a political forum in Rimbey Alberta back in October 2010 before passing judgement:
Mayor Dale Barr and his incumbent councillors had to answer at an election forum Oct. 6 for attending Progressive Conservative party functions with taxpayer’s dollars. “I would like to know how you would have thought, for one second, that it was okay to take money out of my pocket and support the political party of your choice?” Levi Blackmore asked.
Barr explained the town has to spend money to make money. Attending these functions benefited the town; and Rimbey attended them because other municipalities were also attending the Premier’s Dinners and golf tournaments to become friendly with government members."
“In the last three years Rimbey has gotten approximately $15 million in additional funding that wasn’t coming our way. You figure it out from the dollars that were spent on theses functions, it works out to .05 per cent. That’s a fifth of one per cent was spent to get over $15 million worth,” added incumbent Wayne Clark.
Unbelievable. A mayor and a councillor publicly say that using tax dollar to attend partisan PC functions is an investment because that is how it is done in Alberta! If that isn't the smoking gun to prove a culture of corruption exists in our one party state, I don't know what would be. (But just in case here are a couple of links to recent events of the PC's putting their foot down on those that dare question the PC party: AUMA Fiasco, Holy Family Catholic School Division, and do I really need to bring up intimidation of our doctors and nurses?)
The rules on political donations are clear so there is no need to go over them again but here is something that I bet few Albertans are aware of: Elections Alberta is explicitly forbidden by legislation from revealing any details about these investigations including who made the donation, which party received the money, who was found at fault and how much they’ve been penalized for breaking the rules. In other words, the legislation written by the PC's and which is now protecting the PC's from public scrutiny, prevents you, the public, from finding out who broke the rules, and the worst part is that Premier Redford is 100% in support of this nonsense! Redford said the laws are about “maintaining the integrity and independence” of the Chief Electoral Officer, What a load of tripe from Redford! I can understand why it is not a good idea for Elections Alberta to discuss unproven allegations or even investigations in progress but there is no reason, other than to protect politicians, that the results of these investigations should ever be kept secret from Albertans, the ones that all of government, including Elections Alberta are here to serve. Sorry Premier, but hiding the facts from Albertans is not real life leadership, not even close.
Before I wrap this up I would like to touch on one last thing and that is Redford's spin on this entire matter. As I wrote back in January, Redford and the PCs have taken to blaming the donor rather than her party, who happily took the money and cashed the cheques, in a sad attempt to deflect and make themselves look better.
Redford: "and we are going to have no part in any kind of practice or procedure that would suggest that that was acceptable." and "Municipal leaders, who are also elected by their communities, have a responsibility to follow the rules. There is no doubt that auditors who are in place understand the rules, and I fully expect that everyone who is elected and fully engaged in auditing should understand the rules well enough to make sure that these things aren’t happening."
All sounds well and good but how can she explain it when PC party members Steve Christie, the current PC candidate for Lacombe-Ponoka who also happens to be the Mayor of Lacombe as well as past(?) president of their local PCAA board, and Carol Lund, president of the Athabasca-Redwater Conservative riding association and Athabasca University’s University Secretary, responsible for its policies, including conflict of interest, both were responsible for illegal donations making their way to the PC party.
Christie: (claimed $500 for a Progressive Conservative fundraiser as a municipal expense) “As past president of the Lacombe-Ponoka PC association, I definitely knew the rules,” he said. “It’s definitely there in black and white and my signature is on it.”
Lund: (personally signed off on several requisitions for Tory fundraisers, including for the Athabasca-Redwater riding association. Lund also actively recruited university executives to attend these functions.)
BTW: CBC has done a great job following the money from Athabasca University to the PC's and it is well worth the time to check out the actual paper work here.
Now what was it Redford said again about elected officials and those responsible for auditing knowing the rules and the PC's not having any part in anything that would suggest that this type of thing was acceptable?
For all of our sakes this tired party and the culture of corruption which it sowed and reaped the benefits of has to go, and go soon. Albertans deserve so much better than this.